It’s a matter of perspective

It’s June 2021 – roughly 13 months since life in the US pretty much stopped and we all wondered what the hell was next. Surely lockdowns wouldn’t last more than a couple of weeks. Surely people would recognize the public health was more important than politics. Surely we’d all be okay.

Well, some of those things are true. Lockdowns lasted a hell of a lot longer than two weeks (and many people around the world are still experiencing them). Many people recognized that wearing masks, social distancing, and getting vaccinated were an important part of helping society get past this…but certainly not all people felt that way, even those we assumed would be first in line. And while most people who got sick recovered, not everyone was okay.

While we were all in the middle of this, it was really hard to have perspective on what was going on. I know we took it a day, a week, a month at a time. As more people get vaccinated and society starts to open up, we’re stepping back into our routines – some with no hesitation at all, others with more caution. We’re sort of in the middle – we got vaccinated as soon as we could, we wore masks for a week or two after the CDC said we didn’t have to, and now we’ve pretty much gone back to our old lives. Admittedly, we have done so with increased social distancing and a permanent supply of hand sanitizer.

I don’t think, though, we have taken a moment to collectively look back at what we’ve been through – at the complete and utter stoppage of life as we knew it, and at the emergence of cautious optimism for the future. This hit home when I was finishing up transferring some newsletter posts to a website refresh at work. Nothing terribly profound in the activity – but as I moved from the most recent newsletter to those written back in January 2020, the change was striking.

Posts from January 2020 were so optimistic and forward-looking – new year, new focus, LET’S DO THIS. Then we started seeing the reality of what was going on, and posts were more about staying safe, providing resources, and simply surviving – both personally and professionally. The middle of the year was a complete 180-degree turn from where we had started the year, like we fell off a cliff. Recently, the focus is back to business, back to looking forward, back to the wider world.

As someone who majored in history (true story!), I am so curious as to how future generations will look back on this period of time. What records will survive? How will they judge the way things were handled? In 100 years, what will society even look like? Were we irretrievably traumatized by the harsh relief of many of our fellow citizens exposing their true selves? Were we inspired by the utter selflessness of so many of our fellow citizens continuing to fight for the truth and decency? What perspective will distance lend?

I hope we – and I mean the global ‘we’ – don’t move on too quickly from what has happened. I hope we take some time to look back and marvel at the highs and mourn the lows. I hope we see this for what it is – a real-world scenario of what might (and did) happen if the world population is threatened. And I hope we recognize we could have done better.

We need to do better.

We need perspective.

We know how lucky we are

There is no doubt about it – 2020 has been a challenge.

And it started before COVID hit.

We sailed into January believing the worst was behind us. Our dog, Boo, had survived emergency surgery in December, emerging from a twisted stomach without her spleen but with all stomach tissue intact. It was pretty much a best case scenario. We celebrated Christmas and the New Year, certain we had more time with our older, but still puppy-like, dog. 

Then less than two months later, the rug was pulled out from under us and Boo threw a blood clot and despite emergency care, we lost her 24 hours later. After 10 years, we were suddenly coming home to an empty house. It was terrible. 

And then the world started shutting down.

Our last personal trip was the day after we lost Boo (planned trip to Chicago for the Hustle), and my last business trip was early March. Shortly after that, my choir concert was cancelled, and eventually, the rest of the season. We watched and waited to see what would happen with jobs, with family, with health. We hoped things would improve by August so we could take a planned trip to California, but soon realized there was no way. Our annual pre-holiday trip didn’t even get to the planning stages, knowing we were in this for the long haul.

Yet through it all, we know we are lucky. 

Neither of us lost our jobs and the work we do is easily done remotely. We have good health insurance. We have a house large enough to accommodate both of us working from home for the foreseeable future. We have the means and the know-how to order what we need online. We have remained healthy. Our extended family has remained healthy. The money we had set aside for our California trip was repurposed into long-overdue home improvements (along with everyone else in our neighborhood, apparently). We already had a home gym set up, for goodness’ sake. Overall, we are doing okay.

Every once in a while, one of us will comment on a story we’ve read or a segment on television we just saw, saying, “We have been really fortunate through all of this.” 

That doesn’t mean we don’t have bad days. We get frustrated, depressed, annoyed, and bored – just like everyone else. But we haven’t had to say good-bye to a loved one via Facetime, which puts it all in sharp perspective. 

For all of this, we are grateful. I won’t say we’re “blessed,” because to me that infers we are somehow special or ordained. No – we are flat out lucky. Yes, we follow health guidelines (masks and sanitizer on hand at all times), but lots of people who do that have gotten sick. Yes, we try to be thoughtful about our careers, but lots of people who do that were laid off through no fault of their own. We are simply benefitting from some cosmic lottery that allows us to weather this particular storm in relative security. And so, we are grateful.

There is no motive behind sharing this, other than to say – beware of attribution bias. Yes, we might try to make our own luck, but that saying, “Man plans and God laughs,” exists for a reason. People can do everything right and still struggle. And people can do everything wrong and succeed. You can be proud of your accomplishments AND acknowledge the element of chance that ensured the cards fell in your favor.

Final proof of our luck? We had been following an Akita breeder on Instagram for future consideration. Their dogs had similar personalities to Boo and we thought someday, they might be an option when the time came to consider a new dog. The day we lost Boo, a litter of puppies was born. We were able to put a deposit down, got our first pick of the puppies, and welcomed Baloo to our home the week before my birthday. He’s a doofus of a dog who tries our patience like only a 10-month-old puppy can. 

And we are so lucky to have him. 

It’s time to start writing for me again

Picture of a typewriter with the words "stories matter" on the paper.

It’s been eleven months since I last posted on this site. Kind of stretches the claim in my bio that I author a blog, ya know?

It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I contribute to HR Examiner, ERE.net, and other one-offs as requested. I also write for newsletters and posts for the place where I work. I enjoy writing for all these different places, I really do! But for anyone who has ever done prescribed writing, you know it’s just not the same as writing for yourself.

It’s not that I haven’t had ideas for this blog during the last eleven months. Apparently, I have 25 drafts of posts in various degrees of completion, and that doesn’t count all the random ideas I’ve had while watching television or listening to the radio, or just musing on the human condition.

I just haven’t felt like finishing any of the posts.

Part of it is all the other writing I’ve been doing. Sometimes the word tank just runs dry. Part of it is the fact I really like my work and maybe I didn’t need to write to feel heard (I will most likely unpack that in a future post). I also think a big part of it is, just….well, LOOK AT WHAT IS HAPPENING. We have a lot going on between COVID and the crazy person who was supposed to lead us through it. It just felt like there were more important things to deal with.

Our dog, Bamboo (also known as Boo), died unexpectedly in February. She threw a series of blood clots and we had to let her go. It was terrible. Then COVID hit, and all the things I find solace in (travel, choir, lunch with friends) had to shut down. Then there was the uncertainty about jobs and the economy. I mean…that’s a lot.

But things are starting to look up. We were fortunate to get another puppy soon after we lost Boo. (Baloo was born the day Boo died – I like to think that was divine intervention). The work I do is still important, desired, and incredibly fulfilling. And for the first time in four years, we will have an adult in the Oval Office. Hope springs eternal.

So I’m going to start writing more regularly again. I may dust off one of those 25 drafts and finish it up. Or I might just delete the lot and start anew. I may even change the name of this web site. Who knows?

I just know that I’ve still got opinions and I want to share them.